A History of Immigration Loans
Our first loan, in April of 2009, was for a woman named Eva, who for nearly a decade had been unable cover the cost of applying for U.S. citizenship; six months later she was able to vote and quickly became engaged in community organizing and voter registration. Since then, we have financed hundreds of immigration loans for citizenship, legal permanent residency, family petitions, asylum, and even deportation defense. We have been honored to do what we can to serve one of the most vulnerable populations in the nation: immigrants with little-to-no legal protection.
Recently, we became aware of another tremendous need and opportunity to change the lives of immigrants and their families: covering the exorbitant cost of posting bond to be released from immigration detention. Therefore, we have launched an Immigration Bond Loan of $2,000 – $10,000 for this very purpose!
Why Detention Bond Loans?
Detained immigrants, including people arrested in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and mothers and fathers separated from their children at the border, sometimes are given opportunity to be released on a cash bond—which is similar to bail—while fighting their cases. To be given this opportunity, a judge must determine that they are neither flight risk nor a risk to public safety, and that they will not become a public charge (dependent on public benefits, in effect).
30 percent (29.8%) of people in detention in FY 2016 were granted a bond; that figure has dropped under the current administration, but judges still have discretion when it comes to offering bond and setting the amount. The impact of being bonded out of detention is tremendous: once released, immigrants are eight times more likely to win their case. This is because of a lack of attorneys who are willing to represent people in immigration detention; as a result, 84% of those detained do not have an attorney and must represent themselves in complicated legal proceedings. When someone is released on immigration bond, it often takes years for their case to be heard as they are placed in a lengthy backlog (whereas the cases of those in detention are often “fast-tracked” due to limited bed space in detention facilities, leading to expedited deportations). This delay affords people in deportation proceedings more time to find adequate legal representation, put together their case, and prepare for all eventualities.
Many families cannot afford the high bond amounts set by immigration judges. There is no upper limit for immigration bonds, but our conversations with attorneys and nonprofits allow us to estimate that in many detention facilities, the average is $7,500; the minimum is $1,500. Sadly, the inability to come up with the money leads tens of thousands of families, desperate to remain together, to fall victim to predatory bail bonds companies such as Libre by Nexus. Unlike in the criminal justice system, ICE requires that immigration bonds be paid in cash without the ability to use property or other resources as collateral. Libre by Nexus puts their customers in debt by charging $880 upfront, 20% of the bond amount, monthly principal and interest AND an additional $420 per month for an ankle monitor; the company requires their customers to wear these oppressive devices with virtually no consumer protections. This exploitative model makes it extremely difficult for low-income families to stay financially afloat and afford legal representation.
How Our Loan Works
Our bond loan affords individuals and their families the opportunity to avoid exploitative companies like Libre by Nexus and instead focus on winning their immigration cases. Too many families are torn apart, not because they lack legal avenues to remaining together but rather for lack of the funds to post bond. Our detention bond loan can play a key role in remediating this injustice.
Ranging from $2,000 – $10,000 with an interest rate of 15% and a term of 48-months, the Bond Loan features the following borrower-friendly terms:
- No application or closing fee
- A fixed interest rate
- No prepayment penalty, which means that if they pay off the loan early, they only pay the interest that has accrued to that date
- No collateral, no ankle bracelets, no other fees
- All payments are reported to the three main credit bureaus, thereby building the borrower’s FICO score by an average of 95 points!
- We fund 100% of the bond amount
- We are flexible. For instance, if someone encounters financial difficulty, we can move the payment date or even restructure the loan
- The monthly payments are of principal and interest, just like a bank loan, so each month they are reducing the principal owed
- We conduct an ability-to-pay test before making a loan, meaning that we do not make loans to those who do not need or cannot afford them
- Our entire loan team is bilingual (English / Spanish) and our website is native-translated into Spanish
There are, unfortunately, tens of thousands of potential borrowers nationwide, and with no alternative even remotely close to our product in terms of affordability and consumer-friendliness, we are confident that the Bond Loan will have a transformational impact on immigrant communities. In fact, our conversations with dozens of advocates and nonprofits have made clear that the inability to post bond is one of the greatest barriers to protecting the rights of immigrants. In short, we are proud and honored to serve this need through our newest and most impactful product: the Detention Bond Loan.
For more information and to apply visit www.goodfund.us/USA.